This chapter begins with the elders coming to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. This simple act infuriated God. Why? Doesn’t God want His children to come to Him, to seek out His will, and find answers in Him? Yes, He does. But He wants us to come only to Him. Israel, including her leaders and priests were practicing various religions and mixing beliefs together to create a spirituality that suited them. They were treating the LORD God as if He were another wooden idol, His statutes as if they were disputable, and His law as if it could be rewritten. Whatever question they came asking, God did not answer. Instead He told them He would not put up with their idolatry.
The Lord told them what He had done for their forefathers. Verses 5-7 read,
“and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God. 6 On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. 7 And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
Then He described Israel’s reaction to His covenant and His choice of reaction. Verses 8-12 read,
“But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. 12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”
But Israel still rebelled, still worshipped idols, and still refused to keep God’s laws. Israel profaned the Holy things God have given her by keeping their idols and practicing a convoluted version of the commandments God required. God could have destroyed them at any time. But He didn’t. He steadfastly loved them. He guided them. He disciplined them. Time and again He said, “I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Verses 19-20). Time and again they rebelled and worshipped idols, profaned the sacred, and ignored the Lord. Yet God remained patient. He remembered His awesome power, perfect love, and great name. He remained I Am so the entire world would know that He is The LORD.
When Israel entered the Promised Land they prayed to the Lord, but they did it on the altars of false gods. God said to destroy the high places, asherah poles, and the other adulterous idolatrous places, but instead Israel re-purposed them to suit them. They sullied the Holy Name of the LORD. The Lord cannot be desecrated and He will not allow His name to be defiled. His perfect reputation calls the lost to Him. But when His perfection is degraded with false beliefs the lost remain lost, and those who think they have found God are worshipping a god of their own creation.
Verses 30-32 read,
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things? 31 When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.
32 “What is in your mind shall never happen—the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone.”
Don’t we too often think that we should be more attractive to the world? Or maybe some of the world philosophies sound appealing and we mix them with the word of God. What’s the detriment of some tantric mediation along with our prayer? Where is the harm of adding a touch of Taoism or nature worship to our walk? It is idolatry. It brings the Lord down from God to god.
The covenant God makes with us is that we realize we can never obtain life by being good enough. Israel couldn’t do it, even when they were face to face with God in the wilderness. We can only reach righteousness through the blood and grace of Christ Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life. There is no other way. Jesus is the only way to the Father, full stop. (John 14:6). But we have choices. God says it is Him or gods. Pray to idols, ancestors, and a myriad of gods or pray to Him. Worship yourself or Him. You can’t have it both ways. 39 reads,
“As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord God: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols.”
Israel never kept her side of the covenant with the LORD. From its inception they continually broke it. But God never did. Instead He promised restoration. That restoration happens through Jesus. Verses 40-44 read,
“For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. 41 As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. 42 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers.43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. 44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Not everyone will see the astounding and tremendous promise of reestablishment of New Jerusalem. No one who practices idolatry will enter into it. No one who corrupts the name of the Lord by bringing worldly philosophies into the pure relationship with Him will enter. No one who rejects the Word of God, Jesus Christ will come in. But everyone, every single person will know that Awesome God is The LORD. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess He is Lord. (Isaiah 45:23). Every person will realize the devastating truth of their iniquity. But for some, for most, it will be too late.
Do not contribute to dishonoring the name of the Lord by sullying the way. He gave you sacred things and holy knowledge. He gave you His name, His reputation, and His holiness. Don’t muck it up with fake spirituality, lies, and idolatry. Your life is a testimony. God will deal with you so that you will come to know Him and be transformed to Christ’s image and so that others can come to know Him. Do not lead people to a false god. Make sure it is the One True Holy God you worship and not a god of your own creation.